The government has recently announced tougher sanctions for those who are caught using a mobile phone, or a similar hand-held device used for sending or receiving data, whilst driving or supervising a learner driver.
The new rules are expected to come into force next year in England, Scotland and Wales and will result in an increase of the fixed penalty fine from £100 to £200 and the points to be endorsed on licences from three to six. Where matters proceed to Court, there will be a higher financial burdens, six points or a discretion to disqualify.
Those to be most affected will be new drivers who are within the two year probationary period. One incident of being caught using a mobile phone whilst driving will result in their licence being revoked because they will have 6 or more points in their first two years. In such instances the driver would have to apply for a new provisional licence and retake both theory and practical tests in order to regain a full licence. This can be particularly difficult because of the time it takes to receive a probationary licence, which is often followed by a long wait for the next available test.
The change in law will also mean that more experienced motorists, who have held their licence for more than two years from the date of passing their driving test, could face at least a 6 month disqualification from driving if they get 12 or more penalty points within a three-year period.
As it stands the law states that a mobile phone may only be used by a driver of a vehicle in limited circumstances, for example, to make or respond to a call of genuine emergency or when the vehicle is safely parked.
Hands-free devices such as sat navs or hands-free phones may be used whilst driving, so long as they do not cause loss of control of the vehicle or distraction that could be construed as careless or dangerous.
If you are caught driving whilst using a mobile phone, please contact our motoring law experts to discuss your options.